Range Planning: a Reminder for the New Year

First off, Happy New Year! Second off, resolve to yourself to spend more time on the range this year. Get off your ass. Going once a month and putting two magazines downrange in good, planned use is better than a single thousand-round weekend annually. Now more than ever, when pretentious uninformed foreign fucktards, evil crones and monkey-commanding old biddies are after your guns, the last thing we need is for an honest Second Amendment loving CCW carrier to throw an airball and kill a bystander.

Train, boys and girls, or just give up your guns now.

So, back to Range Safety Planning: yes, much of ths will be material you've seen before. Read through it anyway and implement it most ricky-tick.

First the Cardinal Rules…Oh, yeah we already know them.  Too bad, we’re going over them (note: pictures courtesy of assorted Handlers).

1)      All Firearms are always loaded and shall be treated as such. This is a fucking no-brainer people.

2)      Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to injure destroy, including yourself and your limbs .

3)      Keep your finger off the trigger, indexed outside the trigger guard and alongside the frame until you are on-target and have made a conscious decision to shoot.

4)      Always be aware of your backstop and what lies beyond, as well as what's potentially between you and the target.

The wording may be a little different from what you have previously read, had read to you or have had drilled in to you by numerous instructors and range officers.  But, the concepts are the same.  They are Cardinal Rules – meaning they are the same for all firearms regardless if you are on a range, in the armory, your own bedroom, in some insurgent's bedroom or some tweeker’s apartment.

Now that we have that out of the way, we must hasten to point out that in order for someone to get unintentionally hurt or killed by a firearm, at least two of those rules needs to be violated simultaneously. Remember that except in a damn infintesmally small number of cases there are no 'accidental' discharges – they are 'negligent' discharges; the meaning lies on several levels.

Next we'll go over some easy to follow suggestions for range safety.  These are just suggestions.  The above rules are really not negotiable.


1)    Wear a vest if you'd normally be working in one (and maybe even if you don't).

If there is one place in this world where we KNOW there are going to be shots fired, it is at the range and in the damn shoothouse.  If you are an armed professional, you likely never go out in to the field without your ballistic protection: soft body armor, hard plates, shield, etc.  You do this because you know there is at least a possibility of shots being fired and in all likelihood, you are mandated to wear your vest.

It is not just the fact there are going to be shots fired in potentially many different directions, but wearing a vest while shooting is really the only way to become proficient shooting while wearing a vest.  Which, as we just discussed, is what many of us do for a living. Even if you're a CCW carrier or just a recreational shooter there's nothing wrong with wearing protective gear, particularly if you are shooting alongside people of lower skill levels (and especially if you're on the line alongside people you don't know).

2)    Range Safety Planning (written for a departmental/unit/agency training iteration, but perfectly acceptable for a handful of you out to put some rounds on steel by yourselves.)

Medical: We have all been on a range where the Range Master will identify the person with the most qualifications to render first aid in case of an unintentional discharge resulting in a bullet wound.  But what if that person is the one to go down?  What if he is on a different section of the range shooting a different course of fire?  The solution?  Identify at least two medically trained people as first responders.

Communication:  There is no need for 25 of the 26 people present to call 911 to report an injury at the local range.  Again, identify at least 2 people to handle all communications (who have cell service or a functioning radio)…and they should not one of the medical responders!

Logistics: For outdoor venues, identify at least 2 people with vehicles to go to the nearest entrance to the range and meet the EMS/Fire/Police vehicles as they approach so they can lead them directly to the injured person.  The primary person leads the first vehicle; the secondary person leads the next one.

There will be multiple vehicles responding to the area and you must keep in mind they may all be there for different reasons.

Throw & Go: If you find yourself in a situation that requires immediate response and transport to a hospital, identify two vehicles (preferably with lights and sirens, if available) to act as a makeshift ambulance and lead vehicle.

Air Support: This may only apply in a handful of cases, but if there is a need for Life Flight (Casevac), you need to identify a place for a helicopter to land (generally 60’ x 60’).  It’s a good idea to have a conversation with the Range Master / Owner prior to starting your day and discuss this very topic.  They may already have a designated area which has been used in the past. You shoud already know who to call (cell) or go direct with (radio frequency) to contact them.

3)    Police Response

Wait; if this is a departmental or team deal, there are already 26 police officers on scene, right?  Why do we need more?  Simple, al

l 26 are potential witnesses and this is now a potential crime scene.  Someone got shot, remember?  Leave the gun in question wherever it landed.  Do not make it safe, disturb it or put it away.  If the unintentional discharge was something other than operator error, that firearm is going to be inspected by numerous people from different agencies, law firms and manufacturers.  And they would all greatly appreciate it if you didn’t get your DNA all over it or disturb the crime scene…plus there are those very rare occasions when the weapon itself is at fault. Don't alter anything.

As far as an internal investigation…well, we're not going to touch that one (not saying a couple of us don't have a little 'PTSD' from prior IA’s) but remember, there will be some form of investigation.

Fortunately, our combined crew has only been present during a couple of negligent discharges on a range and only two that required follow-up and administrative scrutiny.  Notice we didn’t say unintentional?  That’s because it was more negligent than unintentional (but that’s another story).  We're am happy to report that in one case the Supervisor who shot herself in the ass recovered nicely, and in the other property damage was minimal. We're also happy to report the plans we had in place worked very well.  The one thing we did not plan for in the injury event was having multiple vehicles at the front gate to lead the responding emergency vehicles in.  The event took place on a very large range with several miles of roads and it could have taken several more critical minutes for an ambulance to get to our location if we would have been forced to give directions to a dispatcher: “tell them to turn down the gravel road…no, the other gravel road…” Having a guide vehicle is always a good idea, especially if you're on a private range responding medical personnel aren't familiar with.

The other thing we did not account for was splitting the class in half during our training session.  We weren't sure where our designated medics, drivers and callers were at the specific moment a negligent round cut meat, so we improvised.  Reminds one of an old quote about best laid plans not surviving first contact.  Our response wasn’t perfect, but we would have had a shit storm on our hands had we not made the plans we did.

Lesson learned there – know where the medics or designated contact personnel are and place them in relays intentionally.

That's all for now.  STAY SAFE AND BE DANGEROUS, brothers and sisters..and wear your fucking vest to the range!


Mad Duo Clear!


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